Southeast Asia is located in the regions between India and China. There are 2 parts, the mainland and the islands. Since they are all located near water, it made for a good trading economy. Since most of the trade routes like went through major areas like the Malacca Straight and the Sunda Straight. Control of these areas brought wealth and power to the people of Southeast Asia.
As always, not only goods were traded but ideas too. As traders passed through these regions, Hinduism and Buddhism. Islam also made its way to the Southeast. India also sent missionaries to promote these beliefs. Not only religions, but political and cultural ideas spread too. Indian writings about government spread along with their technologies.
The Pagan Kingdom
Around 840 AD, people known as Burmans created the kingdom of Pagan. It was located in a fertile river valley called the Irrawaddy River valley. This meant it was very good for rice farming. Anawrahta was this kingdom's first king from 1044 AD-1077 AD. He conquered and untied most of what is now known as Myanmar. He and his successors built many Buddhist temples.
But its down fall arrived when the mongols came. The Mongols demanded taxes, but they refused and attacked instead. Eventually, the King fled to the south and after one of his sons were killed, he surrendered.
The Khmer Empire
South of the Pagan, people known as the Khmer rose in what is now known as Cambodia. By the 800's, they had started conquering neighboring kingdoms and started to build their empire. It reached its height at around 850 AD- 1220 AD and controlled much of the land in Southeast Asia.
The rulers of the Empire took in both Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, but Hinduism had a much greater impact. The capitol city of Angkor represented the shape of the universe according to Hinduism. there were many temples, but the most famous is the Angkor Wat, a Hindu temple with many carvings and towers fro astronomical observations.
The Khmer could afford all of these great buildings through the wealth they gained through their rice farming. They improved it by developing advanced irrigations systems to water the crops. In the end, the building cost's increase and the invaders caused their decline.
The Trading Kingdoms
Many trading kingdoms developed on the islands of Southeast Asia. On one particular island of Java, the Sailendra flourished from about 750 AD- 850 AD. This kingdom's economy was based on agriculture.
Another kingdom was the Mahayana kingdom, mostly known for its impressive Buddhist arts and architecture.
On the island of Sumatra, the Srivijaya Empire also flourished 600 AD to 1200 AD. This kingdom became wealthy mainly by its control over trade routes through the Malacca and Sunda Straights. They made sure trade continued to pass by and ensure their profits. These people also adopted Hinduism and Buddhism. Its capital, Palembang, became the center of Buddhist learning. Eventually, the Indian Kingdom attacked the Srivijaya. They were weekend. As other kingdoms took advantage of this, the Srivijaya lost their dominance in the trade business, leading to their decline.
Vietnam, unlike most, was strongly influenced by China rather than India. After the Han dynasty conquered them in 111 BC, Vietnam remained under Chinses rule "off and on" for the next 1,000 years.
Despite the influence China had, Vietnam still kept its traditions. They merged their religious beliefs in with Chinese beliefs (Buddhism).
Sometimes when the Chinese weekended, they tried to rebel. The most famous rebellion happened in 39 AD. Sisters Trung Trac and Trung Nhi raised an army for their rebellion. In the end they lost and the sisters committed suicide. They are still considered heroes to this day.
After the fall of the Tang dynasty in the 900's, Vietnam once again fought for independence and this time they succeeded. The Vietnamese maintained their independence when China tried to take them back and later on when the Mongols tried to invade.